My mother used to say, “We must need it, or we wouldn’t be getting it.” Most of the time she was talking about things like the weather, but for her it became a philosophy of acceptance. She was not easily upset by adversity.
As a teen, I wasn’t impressed. Why didn’t mom fight back when people mistreated her? Later I realized that her faith in God no doubt was the root of her contentment. Like the Bible tells us, we are to remember that the Lord is in control and can use all the circumstances of our lives for our good, to transform us into the likeness of His Son.
This morning I reed this passage about those who are ‘unequally yoked’ — that is, a saved person married to an unsaved person. Paul gave this advice:
“If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:12–16)
In my understanding, the key to this advice is the word ‘holy’ because it can also be translated ‘set apart for God.’ Also, key is my own experience. When my first marriage ended in divorce, I turned to the Lord and became a Christian. However, in my naivety about such things, I remarried an unbeliever. In the nine years before he became a Christian, I learned many hard lessons. I can see now that God had ‘set apart’ this man to use for His purposes in my life. My stubborn and self-willed nature needed breaking. I needed to learn things that I would never have learned if I had ran from that marriage. I needed these challenges.
God affirmed this early by immediately putting my focus on these verses . . .
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . .” (Romans 8:28–29)
This echoed my mother’s mantra. I needed the “all things” that were happening to me such as God setting apart my unsaved husband and using the challenges of being unequally yoked to teach me vital lessons and change my independent spirit.
From the Bible, my mother, and challenging experiences, God taught me that His sovereign grace covers all the bases. He even used my children to teach me because He set them apart and used them for His purposes.
For this reason, He tells His people to stop trying to rule our own lives. He applies it to all situations . . .
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:17–24)
Lord God, I’ve heard a modern version of Mom’s saying. My friends say, “It is what it is.” I notice that both can be interpreted two ways; futility and resignation to the challenges of life, OR trust in God and contentment knowing that He is in control. Mom’s wisdom and her attitude of acceptance is a choice that can only be made when my focus is on You and Your powerful goodness, remembering that no matter what is going on, You can use it for good — as long as I don’t take matters into my own hands and try to run my life myself. That didn’t work in the past, yet I always need Your grace to avoid such folly today and every day.